Will Trump’s National Emergency Declaration Result in His Promised Border Wall?

On February 15, President Donald Trump declared that the U.S.-Mexico border represents a national emergency.

This pronouncement allows him to gain federal funds. They will be used to build a wall intended to reduce illegal immigration.

Building a border wall was one of Trump’s key campaign promises. He tried to convince Congress to approve the $5.7 billion necessary. But only a smaller number was recently approved.

That left Trump with two options. He could concede defeat. And hope that less expensive security measures will do the trick. Or he could declare a national emergency.

Congressional Act Gives President Power

Before we discuss what could happen next, let’s first take a look at some history.
Later I’ll ask for your opinions on this important matter.

Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976. It allows the president to declare a national emergency if he or she believes it is appropriate.

This act is vague on purpose. It does not give any guidelines for what a national emergency is. The president is able to decide that.

This declaration gives the president access to funds that would not normally be available.

National Emergency Declarations Are Common

Since this act was established 43 years ago, close to 60 national emergencies have been declared.

President Bill Clinton declared a national emergency 17 times. President George W. George used this power 12 times. President Barack Obama used it on 13 occasions.

Most of these national emergencies involved c sanctions. They were imposed against foreign countries the president considered a threat.

Here are a few examples of other national emergencies:

  • Clinton prevented U.S. ships or aircraft from entering Cuban territory without authorization. That was during the 1996 Cuba embargo.
  • Bush announced a national emergency following the terrorist attacks of 2001.
  • Obama declared a national emergency to establish patient treatment in 2009. That followed an outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu epidemic.

Different From Executive Orders

How is declaring a national emergency different from issuing an executive order? The border wall is an example of why the former is more powerful than the latter.

Trump issued an executive order making the construction of a barrier wall a federal priority. That was shortly after he took office.

But it was still up to Congress to approve funds for that executive order to create a wall. Congress refused to do so.

The national emergency Trump has declared, on the other hand, gives him the funds he needs.

Resolution Could Oppose Declaration

Congress often drafts a resolution in support of a president’s declaration of a national emergency.

Based on what we’ve been hearing from lawmakers since Trump’s announcement, that seems doubtful.

In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could bring up a resolution to end the state of emergency.

There are other options for those opposed to Trump’s national emergency declaration. They include filing a lawsuit against it. Or joining an existing lawsuit.

Veto of Resolution Is in Play

Normally, a president with a majority in either the House or Senate would not worry about a Congressional resolution.

Even if it passed, all he would have to do is veto it. But resolutions approved by a supermajority (two-thirds in each chamber) can’t be vetoed.

And the fact is, Trump does not have the full support of the Republican Party on this matter. And he certainly does not have the support of Democrats. They’ve called his declaration “an unconstitutional power grab.”

But Trump probably has the support of enough Republicans in Congress to ensure a supermajority does not derail his plan.

Dems Determined to Fight It

Adam Schiff is the House Democratic Intelligence Committee Chairman. Here’s what he says about the situation.

“This is the first time a president has tried to declare an emergency when Congress explicitly rejected funding for the particular project that the president is advocating.

“If we surrender the power of the purse, which is our most important power, there will be little check and no balance left.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the Senate Majority Leader. He said, “I think (Trump) should feel free to use whatever tools he can legally use to enhance his effort to secure the border.”

Let’s Hear What You Think

What do you think? Do you believe the illegal immigration problem is a national emergency? Or do you think this is an abuse of power by the president after he was turned down by Congress?

Please leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your opinions on this. And please, as always, let’s keep it civil and show respect for each other’s opinions.


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